A London schoolgirl who recruited three of her classmates to join IS in Syria was radicalised at an east London mosque, it has been reported.
Sharmeena Begum fled to Syria to join the terrorist group aged just 15 last December.
Months later, three of her school friends at the Bethnal Green Academy in Tower Hamlets - Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana - joined her after she allegedly groomed them.
The Mail on Sunday reported today that Sharmeena was radicalised at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel by women from a group called Islamic Forum of Europe.
The group has previously been mired in controversy after one of its founders was accused of murders and war crimes in Bangladesh.
The newspaper reported that Sharmeena was effectively brainwashed by the group.
They are alleged to have singled her out as potentially easy to manipulate after her mother died from cancer. They reportedly told her she would join her mother in heaven if she died fighting for IS in Syria.
Sharmeena, who is now 16, recently contacted her family to reveal she has married a Syrian IS fighter. It is feared the school friends who she recruited to join IS have also become so-called jihadi brides.
The Mail reported that Amira, Shamima and Khadiza may also have been radicalised at the mosque by members who encouraged them to travel to Syria, but their families described the allegations as “outright disgusting”.
In a statement, the families said: “Our daughters may have attended the East London Mosque to pray, but to our knowledge have never been associated or a part of the Islamic Forum of Europe.
“To make claims that the mosque or the IFE encouraged our daughters to go to Syria is outright disgusting.
“The mosque and even the IFE have a strong track record of speaking out against and condemning extremism, this is well known within our community.
“We can confirm that we have never been pressured by the mosque nor the IFE to do anything what so ever, they have only been there to help us in our hour of need.”
In a statement responding to the Mail’s allegations, the East London Mosque denied it had played a role in radicalising the Tower Hamlets schoolgirls.
It said: “The East London Mosque in all its statements, both written and verbal, has been unequivocal in condemning all terrorist organisations and in warning people not to travel to Syria.
“We confirm that we have in the past worked in-partnership with the Met Police in tandem with our women’s projects to disseminate material as part of its Syria campaign.
“All of the above is publicly available on our website, including recordings of sermons. Any suggestion to the contrary is complete untrue and defamatory.
“The Met police have never been in touch with us with respect to being the subject of their investigations into the missing schoolgirls.
“The East London Mosque confirms it had provided a neutral ground for the families of Amira Abase, Shamima Begum and Khadiza Sultana and their lawyer to meet with the police to assist in repairing the relationship between both after it broke down.
“The East London Mosque was approached by the three families of Amira Abase, Shamima Begum and Khadiza Sultana after the girls had gone missing, and the mosque launched an appeal in the hope for the safe return of the three girls.”
Last month David Cameron announced parents will be able to apply to cancel their children’s passports if they fear they are planning to travel abroad to join extremist groups.
The prime minister’s proposals were billed as his biggest intervention so far on extremism.
Announcing the plans, he said: “Together, in partnership, let’s protect our young people.”
A former London Tube worker who was jailed for terror offences is back on the streets of London after serving just 11 months of a 31-month sentence, it has been revealed.
Afsor Ali, 28, was convicted of possessing terrorist material after a trial at the Old Bailey last year.
During his sentencing, the ex-London Underground security worker was told by a judge: “It is absolutely plain that you are an extremist and you do support terrorism”.
But now it has emerged that the Ali, who has links to hate preacher Anjem Choudary, was recently granted parole despite once being deemed a serious security threat.
An investigation by the Daily Star on Sunday found he had been given permission to live in a west London bail hostel for the rest of his sentence.
The newspaper obtained photographs of him waiting for a District Line train surrounded by oblivious commuters.
Just ahead of his trial in August 2014, Ali attempted to flee to France by Eurostar after obtaining a stolen passport, but police caught up with him and he was re-arrested.
It was later revealed in court that he had been sharing extremist messages on YouTube under the alias Asad Ullah.
In the videos, he warned of a terrorist attack during Prince William and Kate’s wedding and called for a Burn American Flag Day.
Jurors heard how he described the 9/11 terrorist attacks as “a historic event”.
He was also found in possession of a transcript of a speech by Omar Bakri, dubbed the Tottenham Ayatollah, which appeared to justify suicide bombings.
Police also discovered a copy of al Qaeda magazine Inspire and terrorist manual “39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad” on his computers and MP3 player after raids at addresses in east London.
Ali’s activities were investigated after he was arrested outside the US embassy on December 2, 2011, while leading a violent protest against drone strikes in Pakistan.
He denied three counts of possessing terrorist material but was convicted at the Old Bailey.
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